Showing posts from September, 2017

Elizabeth Piper and the Battle of Antietam

Over the past 18 years, I have spent countless hours in front of a microfilm machine reviewing Civil War era newspapers with the aim on extracting soldiers' correspondence, and to date have found thousands of letters. Many of these are rather mundane explanations of campaigns or life in camp, while others grab your attention through their immediacy and sheer power. It was such a rare treat today while I was scanning through the pages of the Wilmington Watchman (Wilmington, Ohio) that I stumbled across a letter written from a civilian whose home was right in the middle of the bloodiest single day battle of the Civil War: Antietam. This isn't the first time I have discovered a civilian account of Antietam buried in an Ohio newspaper (the Dr. Augustin Biggs letter I found in the Weekly Lancaster Gazette was featured in the spring 2016 issue of the Maryland Historical Magazine, and on John Banks' superb Antietam blog, see here , but reading Elizabeth Piper's account

The 7th Ohio Infantry at the Battle of Antietam

Last month I had the opportunity to tour Antietam National Battlefield, following in the steps of Hector Tyndale's Federal brigade as it assaulted the Confederates in the Miller Cornfield and pushed them all the way back to the vicinity of Dunker Church. It was an incredibly moving experience to walk the field and read the words of the men who were there. One of the soldiers whose accounts helped clarify the experience was Captain Frederick A. Seymour of Company G, 7th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. I quote below an excerpt from a letter Captain Seymour wrote home following the battle and include some photos of the areas of the battlefield that he described. On the 4 th day of September, our brigade crossed the Potomac from Virginia at Georgetown and moved on the road to Rockville. Our progress was slow and toilsome on account of the great mass of troops and the enormous supply train necessary to move so large an army. We made slow progress, but kept moving steadily on to Frederick

Cary Lockhart Nelson of the 81st Ohio at Shiloh

Cary Lockhart Nelson enlisted in Company C, 81 st Ohio Volunteer Infantry while a third year student at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, enlisting with his older brother Joseph K. Nelson (referred to in the letter as ‘Jo’). Cary was given a medical discharge later in 1862 due to illness. The 81st Ohio formed of a part of Brigadier General John McArthur's Second Brigade of Brigadier General William H.L. Wallace's Second Division. The 81st Ohio suffered relatively light casualties (4 killed and 17 wounded) compared with the rest of the brigade. The letter and journal pages below were published in the May 8, 1862 issue of the Highland Weekly News from Hillsborough, Ohio. Pittsburgh Landing, Tennessee April 13, 1862 81st Ohio Volunteer Infantry National Colors Ohio Historical Society We are quietly sojourning in our encampment near this place. The weather during the past week has been very disagreeable except last Sabbath April 6 th . Sabbath has come again. A b